A Bitter Veil
By Libby Fischer Hellman
In 1977, Anna Schroder is attending college in Chicago when she meets an engineering student Nouri Samedi who hails from Iran. Friendship turns to love and passion and eventually marriage. They return to Nouri’s homeland to continue their life together. However, storm clouds have been gathering. Iran’s leader, the Shah, is a tyrant, and is slowly being forced out. When the Shah leaves and Khomeini assumes control, things from bad to worse. Anna’s life heads in a downward spiral as Islamic fascism slowly becomes the norm. She watches in horror as Nouri slowly succumbs to the new regime and her marriage, her existence is in peril. When Nouri is murdered and Anna is imprisoned, her only hope is to somehow escape and find the real killer.
This is not so much a murder mystery, although there is that aspect, but more of a spotlight on how a culture changed in the late seventies and early eighties. This includes actual events, such as the taking of the American Embassy by terrorists. The cultural shock is probably not atypical for those women who have married into Muslim life and found themselves trapped.
Anna Schroder Samedi: pale green eyes, blonde, athletic build, attended the University of Chicago as an English major, prolific reader, likes film, parents divorced when Anna was five, father worked for the Nazis during the war
Nouri Samedi: Iranian, tall, straight black hair that curls under his ears, flat chin, aquiline nose, thick lashes, brown eyes with flakes of amber, attended the University of Illinois at Chicago to learn engineering, loves poetry, father in the oil business, has a sister
Hassan Ghaffari: Nouri’s friend, plays soccer, thick and squat frame, black eyes, melted caramel colored skin, pointy chin, thin mustache
Hellman presents some well thought out characters with very distinctive personalities. There is Nouri’s sister who is a very westernized teen. The wealthy father. I enjoyed how Nouri changed throughout the book.
Good voices. Sometimes I didn’t believe some of the dialogue, especially from Nouri’s mother. Sometimes it just didn’t sound natural.
The book is divided into Parts. It is a relatively fast read. Even though I knew what was going to happen in regards to Anna’s life in Iran I felt compelled to read further to see just how bad it could get. One word of profanity. One mild instance of torture. Nothing too graphic. In fact Hellman held back on the suffering. I can only imagine the truth is so much devastating than is portrayed here. In fact, with news reports of the atrocities done over the decades, no imagination is needed.